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spring crappie

Understanding the Crappie Spawn

Learning more about spring crappie behavior related to the spawn can help you catch more fish.

The crappie spawn has major impact on fish behavior during spring and opens some of the year’s best opportunities for catching crappie from shallow water. Most anglers know that much. Where questions arise are with details about things like when the fish move up, how long they hang around, the types of areas they favor, and, consequently, how all that impacts spring crappie fishing strategies.

With such questions in mind, we turned to Josh Johnston, Fisheries Supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Resources, and Gary Dollahon, brand manager for Bobby Garland Crappie Baits. Significantly, both also speak from the perspective of being avid crappie anglers.

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Spring crappie catch

Navigating the Chaos of Spring Crappie Fishing

Spring weather can throw curveballs to crappie fishermen. Here’s how to adjust and catch crappie despite ever-changing conditions.

There’s truth to an old English Proverb that brings hope this time of year to the hearts of crappie fishermen everywhere. . . “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

Sure, you can catch crappie throughout the year, but there’s something extra nice about spring crappie fishing. The weather is warming, the trees are beginning to bud, and the slabs are hungry and moving up to spawn.

But it’s not all a bed of roses. Spring crappie fishing also including rising water, falling water, bizarre cold fronts and those ever-present in-like-a-lion winds that can blow even the best-planned trips up onto the bank.

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spring crappie fishing

How Expert Anglers Keep Up with Spring Crappie

Warming water temperatures prompt crappie migrations toward spawning areas. Learn how to find and catch spring crappie.

When crappie initiate their move toward spawning areas, anglers from Oklahoma to Connecticut head to the lake!

The primary pre-spawn and spawn trigger is water temperature. Across the country, crappie pre-spawn movements begin when water temperatures approach 50 degrees, with crappie moving to staging areas close to spawning flats and banks. When the shallows maintain a temperature close to 60 degrees for several days, bedding may begin. Nests are constructed moderately firm bottoms, generally in protected areas. This yearly ritual may begin as early as February in the Southern states or as late as early July in states along the Canadian border.

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crappie fishing catch

What Do I See? Your Guide to Interpreting Live Sonar

Learn how to make the best use of live sonar technology to improve your crappie fishing efficiency and catch more fish.

Early “Fish finders” were used primarily to find fish, as the term suggests, and to determine bottom depths and locate structure. Over time, technology has evolved, creating far clearer and more detailed pictures and many types of views and allowing anglers to determine bottom make-ups and find both structure and fish far more effectively

The latest electronics technology, live sonar, makes it far easier for anglers to recognize fish species, target specific fish and see how the fish react to lure presentations. It is highly popular for crappie fishing and extremely helpful if you know how make the best use of it.

Live sonar technology, which reveals high-resolution images of fish swimming and responding to lures, is available now via Garmin’s Panoptix LiveScope, Lowrance’s Active Target and Humminbird’s MEGA Live Imaging. For Dustin McDaniel, an Oklahoma tournament angler and guide (GFB Outdoors Guide Service, 417-437-5047), the ability to interpret what he is seeing on his Garmin 1222 unit with its Panoptix LiveScope transducer, has become a game-changer.

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crappie on Bobby Garland Slab Slay'R

How to Find and Catch Crappie in Open Water

Learn how four crappie guides target deep-water crappie during late winter.

The evolution of electronics with live sonar has changed how many anglers catch crappie during winter. Now crappie anglers with live sonar chase roamers as they scan for the larger crappie scattered over deeper water.

Before you stop reading this article because you don’t have live sonar, Bobby Garland Pro Barry Morrow is going to explain how to catch crappie this time of year without those tools, but first let’s talk about catching roamers.

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Crappie Guide Barry Morrow

Crappie Guides and How to Shorten the First Time Learning Curve

Hiring a crappie guide can be extremely beneficial and more cost-efficient than you might imagine. We spoke with several veteran guides about how to make the most of a guided fishing trip.

The start of a phone call once had crappie guide Brad Chappell wondering if he had unknowingly caused real problems. The caller said her husband had spent $6,000 on crappie gear and wanted to know why Chappell was “making” him buy all that stuff. Her husband, a fairly recent guide client of Chappell’s had been calling regularly since the trip to ask specifics about Chappell’s gear – one week about electronics, the next about rod holders, the next about baits… But Chappell hadn’t TOLD him to buy anything!

Then, with a smile in her voice that Chappell could hear, the caller said she was really calling to thank him because while her husband really had spent that much money, the two of them were truly enjoying crappie fishing together!

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dock crappie

Winter Tips for Catching Crappie from Docks

Fishing from marinas and other docks provides a great way to consistently catch crappie during the coldest time of the year. Here’s everything you need to know.

You will never hear Chris Edwards call himself a winter crappie dock-fishing expert, but considering this avid outdoorsman’s history with the activity and the container of splashing slabs hanging in the water nearby, there’s no doubt he could.  

Edwards has a lifetime of dock fishing experience across Oklahoma that began in his youth when his parents had a place on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees. Thereafter, he’s always had a dock somewhere in the state – Texoma, Keystone, Ft. Gibson and Eufaula. He’s made sure of that with one season and one purpose in mind: January to March crappie fishing.

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ice fishing crappie catch

Ice Fishing Tips from Three Expert Anglers

Learn the secrets of 3 highly successful anglers who are especially adept and catching crappie and other panfish through the ice.

Although hundreds of miles separate the favored hard-water fishing haunts of avid anglers Nicole Stone, Doug Sikora and Ryan Suffron, it seems the geography is the only distinguishing difference among the three’s passion for catching crappie and other panfish through the ice.

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Angler with Crappie

How to Fish Ledges for Fall Crappie

Ledges hold big concentrations of crappie this time of year. Learn how three veteran anglers find and catch crappie from ledges.

Crappie stay on the go in autumn, either looking for a quick meal during favorable conditions or seeking shelter, when the weather turns nasty. Some of the best places to find fall crappie that are moving are ledges, which are available in almost every lake in the country.

“A ledge in our part of the country is definitely a change in water depth, and most of the time, it is a pretty abrupt, pretty quick change,” said Freddie Sinclair, a full-time guide on North Carolina’s Jordan, Harris and Falls lakes. “Most of our ledges are hard bottom and rock.” Sinclair noted that a ledge could be a main channel drop along the old river channel or a creek channel drop in a cove or bay.

Texas angler Jeff Schwieterman defines a ledge as “a rapid change in depth – more of a vertical drop than slow slanting.” This crappie tournament veteran said depth changes of ledges can range from 1 foot up to 10 feet or more on the waters he frequently fishes. 

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